ABC chair calls for police investigation of UVA student’s arrest

A case of La Croix water like the one Daly was carrying. Photo: A case of La Croix water like the one Daly was carrying. Photo:

Virginia’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has been under heavy scrutiny following a botched arrest that landed a 20-year-old UVA student in jail after buying a case of water from the Barracks Road Harris Teeter. Now, ABC chairman J. Nealy Insley has called for an investigation into the incident by Virginia State Police, a move Virginia House Minority Leader and Charlottesville Democratic Delegate David Toscano called “encouraging.”

“Last week, I requested the assistance of an impartial third party, the Virginia State Police,” Insley said in a statement Monday. “I asked them to look into the matter and they agreed to conduct an independent administrative review of the facts surrounding the incident.”

“I believe this investigation will provide insight as to what went wrong, and how ABC can improve and implement better protocols and procedures to ensure that an incident like this does not occur again,” Toscano said in his responding statement Tuesday.

On the night of April 11, 20-year-old Elizabeth Daly was approached by plainclothes agents as she left the Barracks Road Harris Teeter with a 12-pack of LaCroix water, ice cream, and cookie dough. As reported by the Daily Progress, the agents, who mistook the pack of water for a case of beer, began shouting at Daly and her roommates and flashing “unidentifiable” badges, according to Daly. One officer reportedly jumped onto the hood of Daly’s car and another pulled a gun. Daly fled the scene in her car while calling 911, allegedly “grazing” two officers, and later pulled over for a marked vehicle.

Daly was arrested and charged with felony eluding police and two counts of felony assaulting of a police officer, but the charges were dropped after she spent the night in jail.

The incident has received national attention and called into question ABC’s operational practices. Toscano said Tuesday he had sent a letter to Shawn Walker, Director of Enforcement at ABC, inquiring about various protocols and training—for example, when agents are authorized to unholster their weapon.

The statement said that, while he appreciates “the role that ABC plays” in the community, Toscano was “concerned about the apparent overreaction of the agents.”

“I have lived in this community for over 30 years, and do not recall an incident like this during that time,” he said.

The Daily Progress reported last weekend that ABC has changed its policy so that a uniformed agent will now act as a contact person when plainclothes officers approach a suspect.—Ryan McCrimmon